Defense To Dominate in Michigan, Texas A&M Sweet 16 Tilt

michigan basketball

Jay Pryce

Monday, March 19, 2018 12:06 PM UTC

Monday, Mar. 19, 2018 12:06 PM UTC

The seventh-seeded Texas A&M Aggies square off against the three seed Michigan Wolverines at the Staples Center Thursday (7:37 p.m. ET) in the first of two Sweet 16 West Regional matchups. Defenses will dominate. 

No. 7 Texas A&M vs. No. 3 MichiganWest Region, Thursday, Los Angeles, 7:37 p.m. ETFree NCAAB Pick: MichiganBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Michigan is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth time in the last six seasons thanks to freshman guard Jordan Poole draining a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to top Houston 64-63 on Saturday. NCAAB oddsmakers opened the Wolverines 3.5-point favorites for the Texas A&M tilt Thursday, the line adjusting to -3 in early wagering. In the last decade, the program is 18-1 SU and 12-6-1 ATS as chalk on a neutral court in the months of March and April. All but one played under the guidance of head coach John Beilein. Michigan is covering a -5.7 average line by 4.4 points per game in this situation.

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THE SHOT, via @JordanPoole_2#GoBlue | #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/GkiURQLyTM

— Michigan Men's Basketball (@umichbball) March 18, 2018
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Beilein’s defense is a rock recently. It ranks No. 3 in the country in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency ratings, yielding a total of 110 points on a paltry 34.5 percent shooting through the first two rounds. It has not allowed a foe to hit more than 42.3 percent from the floor in its last eight contests. With a starting lineup averaging 6-foot-6 in height, Michigan is one of best at packing the paint and protecting the rim. It allows just 24.9 percent of opponents shot attempts within three feet of the iron, eighth fewest nationally.

Texas A&M routed North Carolina 86-65 on Sunday to advance, putting in one of its best offensive performances in recent memory. The Aggies went 31 of 60 from the floor, just the sixth time in 45 contests against ranked opponents shooting greater than 50 percent under head coach Billy Kennedy. They have won and covered their last three against AP Top 25 teams. The Wolverines finished the regular season No. 7 in the poll.

Like Michigan, the Aggies are defense-first and thrive on the boards. They rank 10th in adjusted efficiency, surrendering 68.4 points per game on 39.6 percent shooting in seven neutral-court games this year. Its 41.7 total rebounds per tilt are second most in the nation. They are 19-6 SU (12-10 ATS) when outrebounding opponents in a game this season, going 5-2 SU and ATS as an underdog. The battle on the glass will be key to determining the winner in this one.

This matchup is a battle of bigs between A&M’s 6-foot-10 Tyler Davis and Michigan’s 6-foot-11 Moritz Wagner. Each tops their team in points per game with 14.2 and 14.6, respectively. Expect a grind-it-out affair with the Wolverines slowing the pace as much as possible to stall a quicker-than-average Aggies squad that thrives in transition. For example, Kennedy’s men are 5-1 SU and ATS with a game total greater than 148 points, besting a 0.6 average line by 8.8 points per game. The ‘over/under’ for this matchup opened at 134 points, the lowest for an A&M contest all season.

The Aggies average 59.1 points per game on 40.4 percent shooting as an underdog with a game total under 140 points all-time behind Kennedy. Reaching 60 here will be a challenge. Michigan wins 68-61. Lay the 3 points and lean the ‘under.’

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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